The upcoming Brexit will have huge effects on the European IP landscape.
While European patents will not be directly affected by Brexit because they are not linked to the European Union, upcoming Unitary Patent and European Patent Court (EPC) as well as EU-Trademarks (EUTM) and registered Community Design (EU-Design) will be directly affected.
As the European treaties do not present any ruling on exiting the EU it remains to be seen how Brexit will evolve and how it will in detail effect the European IP landscape. But we strongly expect the EUTM (former CTM) and the Community Design loosing validity in the UK. This will not only lead to EU Trademarks and EU Designs not being recognized in the United Kingdom any more but as well to British Trademark Lawyers loosing the right to represent clients before the EUIPO (the office responsible for registering European Trademarks and Community Designs).
It is most likely that EU trademark owners will not simply lose their rights in the United Kingdom and that the UK will find a legislative solution to facilitate the conversion of EU trademarks into UK national trademarks. But clients need to be aware of not loosing their Community Trademarks when not being represented by an authorized representative and might, as a precaution, consider filing a UK application (for EUTM application not older than six month claiming priority from the EUTM) and for future filings, consider filing a separate UK application. This might be easily done using International Trademark Registrations.
There are also further consequences to expect within the European Union. Problems might occur e.g. if a trademarks is used mainly in the UK: Such European trademarks might be challenged as being no longer under “serious use” in the European Union. Another issue to consider – depending on the new status of United Kingdom – is the exhaustion of rights principle. Even further, existing license agreements naming the “European Union” as geographical scope have to be evaluated and most likely adapted.